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US misconduct rules examined

Professional societies express 'serious concerns' over federal research regulations

Ted Agres(tedagres@lycos.com)

While supporting most of the proposed changes to rules governing misconduct in federally sponsored research, representatives of professional research societies and US medical schools are expressing "serious concerns" and "strong objections" to several changes that would, among others, shift the burden of proof in investigations from institutions or the government to individual scientists.

For example, if records were missing, the scientist would have to prove that he or she did not commit misconduct. "We are concerned that the proposals are inconsistent with the presumption of innocence," Robert D. Wells, president of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), wrote in a letter to the Office Of Research Integrity (ORI) in the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), which includes the National Institutes of Health and other research funding agencies. "This undercuts the protections for honest error. The burden of proof should remain the responsibility of ORI and...

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